U.S. Dairy Sustainability Winners Announced

6/15/2013 7:00 AM

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has announced the winners of the second annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards on April 23 at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The program recognizes dairy farms and businesses of all sizes for practices that advance the industry’s commitment to healthy products, healthy communities and a healthy planet.

The winners were selected based on results that delivered triple-bottom-line results to advance economic, environmental and social sustainability.

An independent panel of judges also assessed the potential for adoption by others, as well as demonstrated learning, innovation and improvement.

“This year’s winners include dairy farms and businesses from across the country who took steps to reduce their environmental impact, improve their profitability and increase their contribution to a sustainable 21st century food system,” said Molly Jahn, professor of genetics and agronomy at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the judges panel.

The 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards Winners include:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability

Petersen Dairy Farm, Appleton, Wis.: Compost is sold at the dairy by the 5-gallon pail or truckload, primarily to home gardeners. Visitors witness firsthand how their old newspapers are recycled as bedding for the cows, or mixed with manure, composted and ultimately returned to their gardens for use as mulch and to their yards for plant food.

Prairieland Dairy, Firth, Neb.: Sustainable design is reflected in every aspect of the facilities, which were built to be efficient and low-impact while maximizing cow comfort — automatic cooling, waste management and pest control systems. Prairieland Dairy also taps into the natural power of wind, gravity and the geothermal properties of well water to reduce the use of energy, water and equipment, for savings estimated at more than $200,000.

Skyridge Farms, Sunnyside, Wash.: Since 2003, they have improved lighting, added occupancy sensors and installed a programmable logic control system. The management team can automatically control lighting, fans, and soaker and flush systems. By doing so, they maintain optimum performance, reduce costs and keep the herd comfortable. This upgrade alone yields a 20 percent energy savings annually across the five freestall barns. With composting, Skyridge Farms harvests manure nutrients, provides quality bedding for the herd and eliminates 600 truckloads annually previously used to transport manure.

Honorable mention: McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kan.: The McCarty Family, owners of McCarty Family Farms, have revitalized their rural northwestern Kansas community by providing more than 100 direct jobs, creating a need for additional housing and in turn increasing school enrollment. McCarty Family Farms’ unique “cow to cup” partnership with Dannon and the addition of an on-site processing plant has improved economic stability while aggressively reducing their environmental impact. Approximately 59,400 gallons of raw milk from the three dairies is processed through an evaporator every day to remove excess water before being separated into cream and skim milk.

Outstanding Dairy Processing <\n>and Manufacturing Sustainability

Unilever, Henderson, Nev., plant: Since 2010, Unilever plants worldwide have been implementing the company’s Sustainable Living Plan — an initiative that is working to improve consumer health and well-being, to reduce environmental impact and to enhance livelihoods. The team identified an opportunity to reconfigure, automate and optimize systems to reduce electricity use by 13 percent, natural gas use by 16 percent and water consumption by more than 1.1 million gallons per year.

Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency

Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, Gooding, Idaho: An energy audit and a team of energy management experts helped identify four primary areas of savings, which included using solar thermal power for the hot water system, installing LED lighting, replacing vacuum pumps and adjusting the milk cooling process. The Ballards achieved their goals, saving $23,000 annually and reducing the dairy’s carbon footprint by 121,500 pounds per year, while decreasing its water footprint by 365,000 gallons annually.

Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy

Green Valley Dairy, Krakow, Wis.: The management team determined that anaerobic digesters would help manage manure nutrients and reduce odors while decreasing the dairy’s carbon footprint. Today, three anaerobic digesters have the capacity to produce 1,200 kWh of “green” electricity.

Honorable mention: Fulper Family Farmstead, Lambertville, N.J.: Fulper Family Farmstead in Lambertville, N.J., has focused on environmentally friendly activities, including soil conservation, crop rotation and farmland preservation, since the dairy’s origin in 1909.

To learn more about the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards, the winners and the best practices in place at their operations, visit USDairy.com/Sustainability/Awards.

Source: Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.<\c> Supplied photo

Pictured, from left, are this year’s honorees: Dan Rice, Prairieland Dairy; Steve Ballard, Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese; Renee Jacobs, Green Valley Dairy; Kam Fierstine, Unilever; Mark Petersen, Petersen Dairy Farm; and Dan DeGroot, Skyridge Farms.

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